With the impending release of The Dark Knight Rises, it seemed like an appropriate time to talk about the nine…er…ten best lives of Catwoman. While there have been numerous incarnations of Batman (even just in the movies – five different actors to date), many times Catwoman (Selina Kyle) is designated as a nemesis or throwaway character, just another member of Bats’ “Rogues’ Gallery”. However, like Wolverine of the X-Men (I know; blasphemous to mention Marvel in a DC-centric article), Catwoman deserves her own storylines and has, justifiably so, been seen in comics on her own without Gotham’s protector.
Originally known as just a cat burglar, different incarnations, over the years, have morphed her into an anti-hero who has a love-hate (mostly love) relationship with Batman/Bruce Wayne. It is the anti-hero with questionable morals that has seemed to ring true for most fans. And there have been more than ten incarnations of Batman’s sexy, sultry nemesis/heartthrob through not only comics, but also movies, television and games. This list will chronicle the best attempts to show just who she is, what motivates her, and just what makes one of DC’s sexiest characters so completely awesome. Here are the top 10
10. Batman Returns (1992)
For the Generation X fans of Selina, this was the best version of Catwoman to be seen yet. While Kyle was “created” through a mysterious reincarnation incident involving lots of cats, her main goal was to get rid of Max Shreck, not necessarily take down the Batman. It was just an afterthought having to go through Wayne to get to the energy tycoon, who happened to be her horrible boss. Unfortunately for this version, she was more insane than other incarnations, meaning that she was less “herself” than in other versions.
9. Lego Batman (2008)
Not much for talking in the videogame, Catwoman is first seen assisting the Penguin in his capers throughout Gotham City. Unfortunately in the game, the characters only have limited theatrics to tell the story. Batman & Robin must take her on in a number of levels and, in the Free Play portion, players can actually play as her. This version is definitely one of the more playful and you get to see that, even in Legoland, she has a thing for Bats!
8. Batman: The Animated Series (1992-95)
While BTAS is considered to be one of the best non-comic interpretations of Batman, it isn’t one of the better incarnations of Catwoman. While it shows her as a cat burglar named Selina Kyle, who also has a vicious animal rights activist side, the true representation of her character is not there. Unfortunately for the show, it was made mainly for the afternoon cartoon kiddie crowd, which meant that they couldn’t really explore any love interest in a villain – too confusing for the kidlets. At the same time, she was a blonde – oh the humanity!
7. Batman: Year One (2011)
This version of our friendly feline features a burgeoning thief/dominatrix who is just getting her claws into some goods as Batman is, himself, learning the ropes. Based on the eponymous graphic novel, Kyle is just starting to embrace the villainous side, and has not yet figured out that she really, really likes Batman, nor has she figured out that crime doesn’t pay. Though, to be honest, she hasn’t really figured that out in any of her incarnations, since she’s always after the shiny baubles and the cold, hard cash.
6. DC Universe Online (2011)
It is interesting to note that, outside of Lex Luthor, the majority of DC’s most recognizable villains are from Batman’s Rogues’ Gallery. So it is not surprising that Catwoman and the Joker are two focal points for the game, though Selina not so much as the Joker. And it is also interesting to note that, while she is a villain in the game, her mission for DCUO is to keep the citizens of Gotham City from becoming cat people by stealing relics and defeating various cat archetypes. We’re going to steal to keep everyone human – sounds like the ends justify the means!
5. Gotham Sirens (2009-11)
After the events of DC crossover “Final Crisis” and “Batman: The Battle for The Cowl,” Selina decides to join forces with Gotham’s two other sirens – Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn. Considering her romantic involvement with Bruce, this is not necessarily the best idea; it’s even exploited in one story-arc. Interestingly enough, the three women together form a nice juxtaposition. Catwoman loves Batman, but feels like she will never truly be able to be with him, much like Harley’s feelings for her “puddin’”, the Joker. Meanwhile, Ivy just wants all men to burn, starting with Batman. That said, this is one of her best representations as the anti-hero.
4. Batman: Arkham City (2011)
Voiced by famous voice actress Grey Delisle, Catwoman comes to life in this blockbuster videogame, which features an entire island of Gotham taken over by criminals, and Batman out to enforce justice. Fortunately for him, Catwoman seems to recognize the attraction in this scenario and fully flaunts her, um, ethics as she chases after those baubles again, while helping Batman and herself. However, once that’s done, she is a playable character and can be a pretty mean combatant in her own right.
3. Batman Comics (1940-Present)
Without her introduction by Bill Finger and Bob Kane in 1940, there would be no reason to count how many lives this kitty has had. That said, she has evolved substantially over the years, and it wasn’t until the mid-80s that she truly morphed into the femme fatale with a heart of gold. Previously, she was mainly the hottie that Bats yearned for and was always trying to catch, even if he had no intention of having her incarcerated. After about the mid-80s, she started being depicted as the anti-hero with ambiguous morals, and an obvious thing for Wayne. “Heart of Hush” is perhaps one of the best examples of this, as Hush believes that, by taking Selina’s heart out, that he will take out Wayne’s heart. Yeah, that’s a good idea – piss off the guy who can beat you six ways to Sunday, on Tuesday, with one hand tied behind his back.
2. Batman: The TV Show (1960s)
Julie Newmar and Eartha Kitt are arguably the best known Catwomen of TV fame. While Newmar first starred in the role opposite Adam West as Batman, it was Kitt’s earthy performance – and the first African-American version – that got most people’s attention. Unfortunately, throughout the show, Catwoman is literally just a cat burglar who boggles Batman with her wily ways. She may not have been the anti-hero most fans have come to love, but she’s the femme fatale that everyone recognizes from these beautiful ladies. And, for many of the older fans of Catwoman, these personifications set the bar for all to follow.
1. Catwoman Comics (1993-Present)
It was during this time period, with her own comic series, that Selina has truly came into her own, for obvious reasons. In this series, she developed more than just her burglary skills, as her ethics were brought into question, with her truly doing acts of good, via her “the ends justify the means” attitude. Case in point, Batman: KnightQuest – she has a run-in with Jean-Paul Valley, the avenging Azrael, who takes over for Bats after Bane breaks his back. During this issue run, she does a few felonious acts, in an attempt to keep Big Money from destroying millions of acres of third world land in the name of development. Also during this time in the comics, she has one of her sultriest outfits – the infamous purple catsuit.
Dishonorable Mention: Catwoman (2004)
This, painful as it is to say, is the stinker that may have nailed the coffin shut on any other possible standalone movie for our favorite felonious feline. Halle Berry, while a sight for sure, made everyone’s eyes sore with her portrayal. Add the bad script and obvious lack of any continuity within the DC Universe (even changing her street name to Patience Phillips for absolutely no explainable reason), and this movie becomes more than just a laughingstock. If poor Selina had any lives left, they would have been rescinded after this horrible flick!